Every corn grower yearns for a picket fence stand, with row after row of thick, uniform plants in perfectly straight lines. And these growers know it’s not just about impressing their neighbors; a strong stand leads to improved yields and higher profits.
Research shows that uniform emergence has a direct result on overall yield. One study from the University of Minnesota found that uneven emergence had a 5% to 9% negative effect on yield. On a 200-bushel cornfield, that’s a loss of up to 18 bushels per acre or more than $100 per acre at today’s prices.
Elements of Emergence
It’s no surprise that weather is a major factor and one that’s largely out of growers’ hands. However, what is in their control is the decision on when and how to plant, ideally when soil temperatures are at least 50 degrees or higher and at a planting depth of 1.5 to 2 inches. According to studies conducted by Iowa State University, hitting the right planting window in corn can impact yield by 4 to 10 bushels per acre. Corn seeds will absorb 30% of their weight in water within the first 24 hours in the soil. If the soil is too cold, seedlings will suffer chilling injury and emerge unevenly. Using starter fertilizer combined with seed treatments can help give the seedlings a boost and prevent seed rot in cool/wet soils.
But many of the factors that influence emergence are easy to identify and easy to control. These include:
Tillage and residue options
The use of cover crops
One of the best ways to improve your chances for even emergence—and higher yields— is also one of the newest and most exciting methods available to growers: using biostimulants to harness the agronomic benefits of microbes present in the soil.
What Are Biostimulants?
Agricultural biostimulants are biological substances or microorganisms that stimulate a plant’s natural systems to improve overall health and productivity, leading to better nutrient uptake. These biostimulants can be applied to seeds, plants or the soil in the root zone, providing a quick and easy pathway for plants to absorb and utilize microorganisms present in the soil, leading to more robust stands and healthier plants.
The result? More even emergence, stronger stands and that “picket fence” that leads to higher yields.
Learn More About Generate - A Proven Biostimulant
Generate®, a biostimulant from Agnition, helps release nitrogen (N), potassium (P) and phosphorus (K) in the soil that would otherwise be unavailable to the plants. The key to Generate is the patented Microbial Catalyst® technology, which helps microbes produce enzymes necessary to turn organic matter into plant-available nutrients. Research shows that Microbial Catalyst has a superior response to nutrient breakdown compared to other similar organic compounds and was able to increase the number of nutrients in a corn tissue test compared to competitors.